"Jumpin' Jack Flash" is a song by English rock band The Rolling Stones, released as a single in 1968. Called "supernatural Delta blues by way of Swinging London" by Rolling Stone,[3] the song was perceived by some as the band's return to their blues roots after the psychedelia of their preceding albums AftermathBetween the ButtonsFlowers and Their Satanic Majesties Request.[4] One of the group's most popular and recognizable songs, it has featured in films and been covered by numerous performers, notably Aretha Franklin.

Inspiration and recording[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, recording on "Jumpin' Jack Flash" began during the Beggars Banquet sessions of 1968. Regarding the song's distinctive sound, guitarist Richards has said:

I used a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic tuned to open D, six string. Open D or open E, which is the same thing – same intervals – but it would be slackened down some for D. Then there was a capo on it, to get that really tight sound. And there was another guitar over the top of that, but tuned to 

Nashville tuning. I learned that from somebody in George Jones' band in San Antonio in 1964. The high-strung guitar was an acoustic, too. Both acoustics were put through a Philips cassette recorder. Just jam the mic right in the guitar and play it back through an extension speaker.[5]

Richards has stated that he and Jagger wrote the lyrics while staying at Richards' country house, where they were awoken one morning by the sound of gardener Jack Dyer walking past the window. When Jagger asked what the noise was, Richards responded: "Oh, that's Jack – that's jumpin' Jack."[6] The rest of the lyrics evolved from there.[5][7] Humanities scholar Camille Paglia[8] speculated that the song's lyrics might have been partly inspired by William Blake's poem "The Mental Traveller": "She binds iron thorns around his head / And pierces both his hands and feet / And cuts his heart out of his side / To make it feel both cold & heat."

Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone that the song arose "out of all the acid of Satanic Majesties. It's about having a hard time and getting out. Just a metaphor for getting out of all the acid things."[9]

In his autobiography, Stone AloneBill Wyman has claimed that he came up with the song's distinctive main guitar riff on an organ without being credited for it.[5]

Personnel[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Single version[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Live version from Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out![edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Mick Jagger - lead vocals
  • Keith Richards - electric guitar, backing vocals
  • Bill Wyman - bass guitar
  • Mick Taylor - electric guitar
  • Charlie Watts - drums

"Child of the Moon"[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Mick Jagger - lead vocals, backing vocals
  • Keith Richards - guitars, backing vocals
  • Brian Jones - trumpet, percussion
  • Bill Wyman - Bass guitar, electric organ
  • Charlie Watts - drums

Release and aftermath[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Released on 24 May 1968, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (backed with "Child of the Moon") reached the top of the UK charts and peaked at number three in the United States. Some early London Records US pressings of the single had a technical flaw in them: about halfway through the song's instrumental bridge, the speed of the master tape slows down for a moment, then comes back to speed. The first Rolling Stones album on which the song appeared was their 1969 compilation album, Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), one year after the single was released. Since then, it has appeared on numerous Stones compilations, including Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (1971), 30 Greatest Hits (1977), Singles Collection: The London Years (1989), Forty Licks (2002), and GRRR! (2012).

The Rolling Stones have played "Jumpin' Jack Flash" during every tour since its release. It ranks as the song the band has played in concert most frequently,[10][11] and has appeared on the concert albums Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!Love You LiveFlashpoint, and Shine a Light, as well as, notably, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (featuring the only released live performance of the song with Brian Jones). Jones is heard clearly, mixing with Richards' lead throughout the song. The intro is not usually played in concert and instead the song begins with the main riff. The open E or open D tuning of the rhythm guitar on the studio recording has also not been replicated in concert (with the possible exception of the 1968 NME awards show, no recording of which has ever surfaced). In the performance filmed for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in December 1968, Richards used standard tuning; and ever since the band's appearance at Hyde Park on 5 July 1969, he has played it in open G tuning with a capo on the fourth fret.

In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Jumpin' Jack Flash" at number 2 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. In 2004, Rolling Stone rated the song 124th on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. VH1 placed it at 65 on its show 100 Greatest Rock Songs.[12]

Music video[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Two promotional videos were made in May 1968: one featuring a live performance, another showcasing the band lip-syncing, with Jones, Jagger, and Watts donning makeup.

Legacy[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Use in film[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The song was also featured in Martin Scorsese's film Mean Streets (1973), in Ron Howard's Night Shift It was also in Whoopie Goldberg's movie Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986), and at the end of Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In 2009, the song was included in the film The Boat That Rocked.

There is a character named Jumpin' Jack Flash in the opening sequence of the movie Roller Boogie.

The soundtrack of the film of the same name includes two versions of the song.

The song was Jack Wilson's walk-up song during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Charts[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1968)[13] Peak


U.S. Billboard Hot 100[14] 3
UK Singles Chart[15] 1
Belgian Singles Chart 8
Swiss Singles Chart 2
Dutch Top 40 1
Austrian Singles Chart 3
Norwegian Singles Chart 3
Preceded by

"Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and The Union Gap

UK number one single

19 June 1968 for 2 weeks

Succeeded by

"Baby, Come Back" by The Equals

Aretha Franklin version[edit source | editbeta]Edit

In 1986, the song's title was used for the Whoopi Goldberg film Jumpin' Jack Flash. In addition to the Rolling Stones' version of the song, the film features Aretha Franklin's cover version for which Ronnie Woodand Richards played guitar. This version is characterised by influences from the increasingly popular black music scene. Both The Rolling Stones' and Franklin's versions are on the film's original soundtrack recording.

Charts[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1986/87) Peak


U.S. BillboardHot 100 21
U.S. BillboardHot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 20
UK Singles Chart 58
German Singles Chart 42
Swiss Singles Chart 19
Dutch Top 40 48
Swedish Singles Chart 14
New Zealand Singles Chart 43

Other cover versions[edit source | editbeta]Edit

A number of other artists have also performed and recorded versions of the song:

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